Garda accused of campaign of harassment against partner's ex
A garda has gone on trial accused of carrying out a campaign of harassment against a State solicitor who is the ex-wife of her partner at the time.
Eve Doherty (49), a garda based in Dublin, has denied harassing Elizabeth Howlin between September 2011 and March 2013 and making false statements claiming Ms Howlin was perverting the course of justice.
On the first day of a trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court the jury heard that Ms Howlin worked in the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) at the time.
Over the 18 month period letters and emails sent to her home, her place of work and to her GP calling Ms Howlin a “corrupt bitch” and an “incompetent useless hobbit”.
The material made claims that Ms Howlin, who is a distant cousin of the TD Brendan Howlin, was a political appointee and that she would “pull” files to prevent the prosecution of anyone connected to her or the Government.
Ms Howlin told Kerida Naidoo SC, prosecuting, that all the allegations in the emails were untrue but that they also contained many personal details which are true.
Mr Naidoo has told the jury that Ms Howlin's ex-husband David Chapman was in a relationship with the defendant at the time.
Michael O'Higgins SC, defending, told the jury that Ms Doherty denies being the author of any of the letters and emails. He said the allegations contained in them were hideous and defamatory.
The first letter sent to Ms Howlin's home in September 2011 purported to be from her neighbour.
The author said Ms Howlin was a “pompous arrogant cunt” and asked her to “fuck off back to whatever hell hole you crawled out of”.
The letter named her young son and the author said they felt sorry for him for having “a cunt of a mother like you”. The letter stated “we are all watching every move you make”.
In December 2011 a neighbour alerted Ms Howlin to leaflets which had been left on cars around her estate in suburban south Dublin.
The leaflet stated that Ms Howlin was a corrupt State solicitor and had interfered in the prosecution of a local family of “drug dealers”.
Ms Howlin said the allegations were completely untrue and were the worst type of allegations for someone in her job.
She said the allegations were very upsetting and gave a malicious and false impression of her. She said that overall they made her very anxious and she stopped sleeping and suffered a loss of confidence.
Ms Doherty is charged with harassment of Ms Howlin and with making a false statement on March 1, 2012 and March 31, 2012 claiming Ms Howlin attempted to pervert the course of justice. She has pleaded not (NOT) guilty to all charges.
The trial continues before Judge Melanie Greally and a jury.
The jury heard that the first letter sent to at her home described Ms Howlin as “Ms Midget” and “Ms Hag Howlin” and stated “you think people like you”.
A few weeks later a letter was sent into the DPP's office and addressed to Claire Loftus, the then recently appointed DPP.
It went on to incorrectly describe Ms Howlin as the niece of the TD Brendan Howlin and to tell Ms Loftus that she had tried to stop Ms Loftus getting the position of DPP.
“She will stab you in the back at every opportunity. Watch your back with that evil corrupt bitch,” the letter, signed “from a friend”, stated.
Ms Howlin said it was very upsetting to have a letter like that sent to her boss. She said there was no truth in it.
The following month, in December 2011, Ms Howlin became aware of the leaflets being placed on cars around her estate in Blackrock, south Dublin.
The printed leaflet had a photograph of Ms Howlin and claimed she was allowing a family to get away with dealing drugs in the area.
It stated: “We do not want drug dealers or corrupt State officials living in our estate. Get them out of our estate now before one of our kids dies of a drugs overdose”.
In a later email to her office and to newspapers the author accuses Ms Howlin and Ms Loftus of corruption and gives out their home addresses.
The email alleged that nobody connected to her or the Government would ever face prosecution and stated that the DPP office rejects 70 per cent of sex crime referrals.
Ms Howlin told Mr Naidoo that, as a solicitor in the directing division of the office, she would have a role in looking at files and deciding if there was sufficient evidence to prosecute and whether a prosecution is in the public interest.
She said any suggestion that she would not prosecute in sexual offences was a most serious allegation. She said the email was “very upsetting, full of lies and very malicious”.
In a further letter the author wrote: “We are sick of watching the corruption going on. I would love to whistle blow on all the corrupt practices in the DPP's office”.
The email alleged that Brendan Howlin “regularly rings his sister”, referring inaccurately to the complainant, and “she pulls files...and lo and behold there are no prosecutions”.
The witness told Mr Naidoo that these claims were absolutely untrue.
“I have never ever 'pulled' a file. I have never been contacted by a politician and pulled a file,” Ms Howlin said, adding that she has never been the member of a political party.
Another email sent in 2012 claimed that Ms Howlin's brother, Eamonn Howlin, was arrested for the murder of a diver. Ms Howlin told the court that her brother, her ex-husband David Chapman and a third man were director of a diving company.
She said that there was a diving accident and the company were prosecuted under health and safety laws and fined. She said the email placed “a malicious twist” on these facts.
She said that the last straw for her was when she went to visit her GP and he told he had received an email with similar allegations of corruption.
The email called Ms Howlin a “corrupt divorced stuck up hobbit of a relative” and asked why was she promoted three times in her office.
The email claimed she had thrown “evil firework parties” and “drug parties” at her home and used firearms with her son.
Ms Howlin told Mr Naidoo that her son loved fireworks and he and his father used to set off fireworks around Hallowe'en. She said she has brought her son to an Airsoft range as well as clay pigeon shooting.
She said the email to her doctor was “the last invasion of my privacy” and she wondered how somebody could know who her doctor was.